Pakistan and IRRI

IRRI began its first initiative in Pakistan in 1966 when the Ford Foundation decided to fund IRRI directly to hire rice specialists.

IRRI began its first initiative in Pakistan in 1966, when the Ford Foundation decided to fund the Institute to hire rice specialists. It was through this arrangement that Kenneth Mueller was hired to lead the Pakistan accelerated rice production project.

Modern rice varieties were adopted rather rapidly after they were introduced in Pakistan in 1968. The rice variety IR8 was reportedly successful in Pakistan because of high solar radiation and abundant irrigation water. When properly managed, IR8 yielded three to four times as much as local varieties and enabled the country to increase its rice production substantially.

Rice was an export commodity for Pakistan. Since the early 1970s much of Pakistan's exported rice has gone to the Middle East, a market that is willing to pay premium prices for high grade, traditional, scented basmati rices. IR8’s high yields in Pakistan's irrigated, high-sunlight environment influenced the rate and adoption level of modern varieties like IR8 across the country. By 1971 to 1972, modern rice varieties like IR8 were planted on nearly 50% of the national area.

Between 1971 and 1984, IRRI enabled rice researchers and extension workers in Pakistan to start collection campaigns of different types of locally grown rice. Whenever IRRI staff participated in field collection, the focus was on special ecological niches where adverse environmental (both biotic and physiologic) factors prevailed and where resistant or tolerant varieties might have been found.

During IRRI’s mechanization program, the Institute also worked closely with local manufacturers in several Asian countries that included Pakistan. When threshers had been developed they became the most popular threshers for paddy in the tropics, and adapted versions were also reportedly produced in Pakistan. Adapted from an IRRI design, a 2.2-m-wide tractor-mounted reaper in Pakistan also entered commercial production, and over 2,000 machines were manufactured in 1983-1984.